Raising Pigs 2015
This is the story of our first three little pigs. We loved them. Please be advised, this story is about us raising, slaughtering, butchering and eating them. We know some of the pictures contained will be upsetting to some people. It was upsetting to some of our team who had committed to raising these animals for food and had never done it before. We who have chosen to eat meat have also chosen not to be separate from the process. We have cared for these animals with their health, comfort and quality of life at the forefront of our responsibility. They did not suffer. We didn’t send them off to slaughter when the time came. It is not easy. We request the reader understand that in the face of current social eating norms and the acceptability of inhumane mass animal production, we have done our best to honor the cycle of life.
Respect and honor the animals.
They arrived during mid-summer. Kevin and McNeill had researched and visited the farm they came from and before picking them up, built the crate to hold them.
They were scared and skittish when they arrived. Stressed from being caught and riding in a truck.
Their enclosure for the first couple weeks taught them not to be afraid of us and to respect the electric fence.
They settled in quickly and took a big, long nap.
One of our missions on this property is to remediate it from the invasive knappweed. This is similar to what the pig pasture looked like before we put the pigs into it. Their mission, should they choose to accept it, was to root up, eat and destroy the knappweed for us!
The pigs became friendly and got good at their invasive removal…
Still so little and cute! The picket fence on the ground was to help hold up their swimming pool and keep it from tipping over.
Then they grew…
“Pigs are working animals for us. They uproot and eat the pastures of invasive plants we put them in, leaving the soil tilled and fertile for replanting. They eat our kitchen scraps and and they ate the leftover chicken parts. Butchering a pig was similar to butchering a deer and I took it all in as a learning experience. “ ~Fisch
and grew… until it was finally time.
We harvested the large male first, it went very well. The two females did not even flinch at the gun shot. The horses however, galloped across their pasture. These pictures will document the two females shown above. This was their last morning. McNeill gave them each a good, long, appreciative back scratch.
Honor the animals.
“I don’t take eating meat lightly and I have some ground rules I try to follow. If I didn’t raise, slaughter, and butcher it, I like to know the farm that did. Having this connection to the animals, the process, and eventually to the food that is on my table feels right. I still am sad and serious on harvesting day because I really like the animals we raise; I spend time with them every day, I pet them, I name them, I see their personalities. I get to know them and love them because it is peaceful to be around animals that are happy. Also, I don’t think it would be fair of me to distance myself from them and then eat them.” -McNeill
Each sow had a bucket of corn. They did not know what happened. A close shot to the head with a .30-30 immediately dropped each in their tracks. There was no panic, there was no fear, there was no stress. The shot was immediately followed by a quick slit to the throat with a very sharp knife.
Their energy becomes us.
Those are the hardest moments, when the nervous systems are still kicking out electric energy and it looks like they are alive but they aren’t. Is it safe to say humans have become so disassociated with death we don’t even know what it really looks like? We see role playing of it it all day long in our entertainment systems– humans killing other humans who drop clean and dead- movies don’t show seizures, tremors, jerks, defication. The sobriety of witnessing living energy exit a body pounds home true mortality, how fleeting life is and how every moment matters. What we eat and where it comes from matters because we live on this Earth and from this Earth we are made. When we ourselves forget that we are made of flesh and blood that came from food grown of earth and water, how can we possibly relate to or feel for the flesh for sale in the supermarket or remember to take care of the earth?
“I would rather know this pig and how it got to play under the sprinkler and root in the dirt and sleep in the shade of a tree with its litter mates. For me it is better to feel sad about a moment than sad for the whole life of an animal raised in poor conditions or slaughtered inhumanly. Our pigs lived well, ate healthy food, had space to move and play, had companionship, and when the time came they had quick deaths.” -McNeill
“I loved the pigs! I got stressed out and upset when they arrived because I felt we weren’t ready to raise pigs but the truth was, I wasn’t ready to raise pigs. As I watched them, fed them, scratched them and got to know them, I adored them. Always I held the awareness of their purpose. I eat pork and was committed to not hiding from the source of it. I thought it totally possible that after butchering the animals I had raised I would become vegetarian…but I didn’t.” ~Lisa
We let them hang overnight and next morning…
“I was surprised at what an accessible way it is for someone with minimal resources to become closer to their food and feel better about what they consume. Raising these hogs was fairly low maintenance and brought a great yield of high quality meat to our table.” -Sawyer
After par-freezing the best fat, it was shredded and rendered slowly in the crockpot.
The lard we use in place of oil for cooking. It’s marvelous!
Lisa also rendered soap out of it! Here it is. We are washing our hands with herbal soap from our pigs and garden!
“The roasts, loins, ribs, bacon, broth, lard and soap I have enjoyed since this fall’s harvest have been the most humbling, memorable and delicious of my life. I am grateful and honored to have been and to continue to be part of this process.” -Lisa
….and that’s our story.
Thank you for reading, and thank you pigs for your continuing gifts!
“I’m thankful I had the opportunity to raise healthy, happy animals and I am very thankful for the energy they will provide for me. One of the reasons humans allow the Earth to be destroyed is because too many of us have been cut off from the circle of life and death for a long time. Everyone who eats meat eats an animal that was raised and killed. How much more real and visceral it is, how much more aware of it you are, how much more connected could you possibly be than when you raise the animal and take that life yourself. It’s hard. But it’s real.” ~Tom Brown III